Open Access Tuberculosis peer educators: personal experiences of working with socially excluded communities in London

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SETTING: Peer education is a relatively unexplored intervention for tuberculosis (TB) control, particularly among socially excluded communities. In London, peer educators are used to raise awareness of TB and promote uptake of radiological screening among people using homeless and/or drug and alcohol treatment services.

OBJECTIVE: To understand the motivation and personal impact of being a peer educator on people with experience of anti-tuberculosis treatment, homelessness and addiction.

DESIGN: In-depth semi-structured interviews with peer educators were recorded and transcribed, and then analysed using a grounded theory approach to identify themes. Reflexivity and thick description were used to support transparency of findings.

RESULTS: Becoming a peer educator supports individuals in making sense of past experiences and renewing their sense of self. The role places value on personal experience and the communication approach this supports. The project environment is an important motivator, providing the peer with structure, social support and respect.

CONCLUSION: Being a peer educator with experience of homelessness and addiction can be beneficial and empowering and help long-term recovery. Peers are an underused resource for strengthening TB control among socially excluded populations. There is a need for further research into the contribution of peers to TB control, including analyses of economic effectiveness.

Keywords: advocate; alcohol; drug; homeless; recovery

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: School of Medicine, Kings College London, London, UK 2: Department of Primary Care and Population Health, University College London, London, UK

Publication date: October 1, 2013

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

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